Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is first openly gay man in Cabinet
Newly-confirmed by the Senate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is now the first openly gay man to head a Cabinet department.
Buttigieg– the former South Bend, Indiana mayor who ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination– made history after President Joe Biden selected him to head the Transportation Department.
The Senate had confirmed the 39-year old Buttigieg with a vote of 86 against 13, making him the youngest member of Biden’s Cabinet.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is ready to work
Buttigieg said in a tweet after the vote that he was “honored and humbled by today’s vote in the Senate-and ready to get to work.”
When he had been nominated, Buttigieg had said he was “mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment.” His husband, Chasten, was with him during the confirmation hearing.
The agency has jurisdiction covering federal highways, pipelines, air traffic, and railroads. It employs around 55,000 people.
Biden has said his US$2 trillion infrastructure improvement proposals would include the “second great railroad revolution.”
The newly-elected president also said he would seek funding “to build more climate-resilient communities to deal with more extreme floods, droughts and super storms.”
The quite-visible Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
Before his confirmation, Buttigieg had been quite visible on cable TV with near-daily appearances. He has appeared on shows like “Morning Joe,” “The View,” and “Tonight with Don Lemon.”
This was in contrast to his predecessor, Elaine Chao, who headed the department under then-President Donald Trump and was notorious for being unavailable to reporters.
Likewise, Buttigieg’s Twitter account has made him a political celebrity with an army of fans on social media, calling themselves #TeamPete followers.
Because of this, some industry groups have started using #TeamPete hashtags to catch attention on particular issues– with the fans engaging with them.
Senate confirmation vote: Those who voted against
It’s also interesting to note that of the 13 in Senate that voted against Buttigieg were among some of the leading homophobes.
All of those that voted against were Republicans. According to the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates lawmakers on their support for LGBTQ rights, most of them had low scores or even zeroes.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is the most notorious, has been a longtime adversary of marriage equality and supports restrictions on transgender people’s use of public restrooms.
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri criticized the Supreme Court’s pro-equality decision in Bostock v. Clayton County while Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is also a longtime opponent of marriage equality.
Meanwhile, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in 2015 that that LGBTQ Americans should have “a sense of perspective” because “in Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”
During the confirmation, only one senator did not vote: Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania